|From Adriana Baking|
“Eww! Don’t you rinse your toothbrush under the water before putting it in your mouth?”, my friend asked at a sleepover the other day. She thought the toothpaste stuck to the roof of your mouth if you didn’t rinse it first.
I had never given much thought to the way I brush my teeth. But my friend was right; it was much more pleasant to rinse the toothbrush under water before putting it in my mouth. I just always stuck the toothbrush straight into my mouth, without giving it a second thought.
There are some things that, no matter how unpleasant, I do just one way. I now try to remember to rinse the toothbrush under water first, because it makes brushing your teeth much more enjoyable and effective too.
Before my birthday in April, I always whisked and beat everything by hand. Meringue making was limited, because I didn’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen whipping egg whites and getting sore arms. I love to make French macarons, but meringue was involved in those too. In fact, there were so many desserts I loved that required whipping egg whites, that they made a rare appearance at my house.
|From Adriana Baking|
When I made buttercream for the Piggy Cupcakes, I complained about how long it took for the buttercream to become anything more than liquid egg whites and sugar. It wasn’t until my father pointed out that almost everyone, baker or not, owned a mixer, I realized that it was time to get one.
For my birthday last month, I asked my grandparents for a handheld mixer. We don’t have enough counter space for a stand mixer, so that was not an option. Since then, I’ve grown fond of my little mixer. I love the way I can feel its vibrations as it whirs faster and faster, helping me beat butter and sugar into a fluffy cloud of sweetness. The thought that I can pull it out of the cabinet any time I need its help is reassuring. I love the way there is flour stuck in its crevices, and the way its handle is slightly greasy. I can make so many desserts with its help, and make them better too, as with these vanilla bean cupcakes with “American” style buttercream.
When I made buttercream before getting my mixer, it tasted just like sugar creamed together with butter, and it wasn’t the right consistency, though I didn’t know it at the time. This buttercream is easier to pipe because it is sturdier, and the consistency is less grainy and smoother.
The cupcakes are not ordinary vanilla cupcakes. They are extremely fluffy and moist, and practically melt in your mouth. They taste best if not refrigerated, as refrigeration makes them denser.
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod (or reserve for another use.) Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells.) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
Yield: approximately 30 cupcakes
Easy Vanilla Buttercream:
From Annie’s Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated
20 tbsp. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.